Stevenson-Kovalev must happen
December, 1, 2013
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
On behalf of boxing fans everywhere: Can we please get Superman versus Krusher?
The whole idea of HBO putting up the money to have light heavyweight champ Adonis “Superman” Stevenson and titleholder Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev appear together in separate fights on the same card at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City on Saturday night was to stoke interest in an eventual meeting between the two brutal punchers.
Stevenson and Kovalev didn’t just whet the appetite of fans for them to fight each other, they inflamed it.
Montreal’s Stevenson and Russia’s Kovalev both retained their titles as they annihilated legitimate opponents in exciting, devastating fashion, making a summit meeting of the two best light heavyweights in the world a must-make fight. It’s the best match that can be made in the division, hands down, and anyone who watched them destroy their opponents so ruthlessly on Saturday night knows it.
Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KOs) opened the show by blowing away Ismayl Sillakh (21-2, 17 KOs), a native of Ukraine living in Simi Valley, Calif., at 52 seconds of the second round. First it was a clean straight right hand to the chin that dropped Sillakh, whom Kovalev taunted while he was down. And then Kovalev finished him, hammering Sillakh, who had a bloody nose, with another crushing right and two left hands behind it to knock him out moments later. Sillakh had no idea where he was as he rolled around on the mat before referee Marlon B. Wright waved it off.
Then Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs) closed the show by shutting out England’s Tony Bellew (20-2-1, 12 KOs), the mandatory challenger, through five rounds before blasting him out at 1:50 of the sixth. Bellew showed some slick moves and toughness, but the southpaw Stevenson stayed on the attack, landed a lot of hard straight left hands and then dropped Bellew with a clean-as-a-whistle straight left in the sixth round. Bellew was in rough shape when the fight resumed and Stevenson smashed him with two more flush left hands. Bellew’s legs were gone and he was basically on his feet only because he was leaning against a corner ring post, but referee Michael Griffin did a great job to step in before Stevenson could land a free shot and do even more serious damage.
When the night was over, it was hard not dream of Stevenson-Kovalev.
When HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Kovalev about it after his fight, he said, “I’m ready for Adonis Stevenson.”
Kovalev was then asked if he could fight anyone of his own choice, who would it be? The answer was just one word: “Adonis.”
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Jacques BoissinotSergey Kovalev ran all over Ismayl Sillakh to score a TKO victory in only two rounds.
Although Stevenson professed more interest in what he believes are bigger-money fights against titlist Bernard Hopkins (well known to the Quebec fans because of his two title fights there against Montreal’s Jean Pascal) and super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, he said he was more than willing to fight Kovalev.
“I don’t have a problem if HBO puts up the money,” Stevenson said. “If the money is right, no problem.”
Sure, Stevenson and Kovalev could each have an intervening fight, perhaps against Hopkins (although politics make that really hard to make), Froch or the winner of the Jan. 18 all-Montreal showdown between Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute. But one hopes they won’t.
Ideally, Stevenson and Kovalev will meet next. Make no mistake -- Stevenson-Kovalev is the best fight at light heavyweight and there are no promotional or network issues standing in the way.
It looms as a can’t-miss action fight (for as long as it lasts) between huge punchers, both of whom have good personalities and an apparent desire to fight each other.
And when the fight is over -- because you know it’s going to happen eventually -- there should be clarity as to who is the best light heavyweight in the world. That’s because, as HBO analyst and former light heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. said in summing up his thoughts on the possible showdown after seeing the carnage Stevenson and Kovalev had left in their wake, “Somebody’s getting knocked out, simple as that.”